The origins of Jeffrey Dahmer as an infamous serial killer are sharply explored in this unusual and insightful teen movie, based on the recollections of one of Dahmer’s high school classmates.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2017
Like Bundy, Manson and Gacy before him, we all know of sandy-haired, handsome Jeffrey Dahmer, who killed – and sometimes chewed on – 17 young men and boys. You’ve probably seen the documentaries, the archival news reports or maybe even that terrific movie with Jeremy Renner as Dahmer. But this savvy and creepy new feature film, adapted from the New York Times best-selling graphic novel based on Dahmer’s high school life, is nothing short of remarkable.
Coming off like the love-child of Napoleon Dynamite, American Splendor and Elephant, director Marc Meyers’ film mines the unseen territory of Dahmer as an awkward student as told through the eyes of John ‘Derf’ Backderf, who went to school with Dahmer and knew him before he was a morbid global headline. It’s a teen film unlike any you’ve seen before, one that offers the usual tropes and hijinks of institutionalised learning alongside sharp insightful jabs as a slow-burn, coming-of-rage story.
Ross Lynch, the former Disney teen star, disappears deep inside the character of lanky Dahmer – a teenager whose damaged view of his own sexuality and abnormal rituals eventually led him to becoming one of the most notorious killers of our time. — AT
“My Friend Dahmer… is more than a twisted Afterschool Special. It’s a serious and audacious attempt to dramatize the inner life of a sick puppy when he wasn’t quite so sick. As you watch the movie, its central idea – that Jeffrey Dahmer wasn’t just born, he was made; that he started off as an actual human being – has a shocking validity that never undercuts the extremity of his crimes.” — Owen Gleiberman, Variety